Franklin (Part 1)

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Franklin was originally a short story I wrote in my second year of university, and was my first assignment to achieve a First class mark. It’s a piece I am immensely proud of, and wanted to share it here in a serialised form for my readers to enjoy.

Franklin

by Clare Holman-Hobbs

My Mom always used to say “if you ever feel afraid, all you have do is come home.” I thought about her words long and hard as I stifled a yawn, the sun rising over the dusty hills of my hometown. Franklin wasn’t far now that I was seeing signs for Nashville. My cell phone vibrated on the passenger seat next to me but I ignored it, and kept my eyes on the road.

The UNC campus had been dark when I left, probably around midnight. I would be lying if I said I had made the decision to come home rationally, but I couldn’t sit in the four walls of my dorm room any longer. As I headed out towards my car with my heavy duffle bag slung over my shoulder, I glanced up at Haley’s window. I knew she’d worry about me, about where I’d gone when she knocked for me in the morning for breakfast like usual. I considered going back for that reason alone, but I didn’t want another argument.

I shook the thought from my mind, realising I had almost passed the turning. People were stirring on the streets of Franklin as I turned down Main Street, commuters passing by on their way into the city and shops owners unlocking their doors. I drove further into the suburbs, passing house after house until I got to mine. It hadn’t changed a bit since I left; only this time, the driveway was empty. I pulled in, taking the space where my father’s car used to be and shut off the engine. I sighed, looking at the worn out wood of the porch, the swing swaying slightly in the breeze.

I got out of my truck, slamming the door behind me and checking my watch. After composing myself, I rang the doorbell, reminding myself to breathe. After about a minute, the front door creaked open, and my mother emerged from around the dark oak that separated us. Her face was pale.

“Taylor. I heard your truck. I thought it was you,” she said quietly. “What are you doing here?”

In the shadow of the cold, empty house that I had fled from months ago, I asked myself the same question.

~

After I got back, my brother Tim and I met at the coffee shop in town. I had spent a lot of time in the basement; trying to make my fingers move coherently enough to play a decent song on my guitar, but it all came out in fragments of an un-tuned mess. Tim took one look at me and knew I needed a break, practically marching me out of the front door and into his car. In the café, he sat across from me, shaking the sugar packet between his thumb and forefinger.

“I couldn’t believe it when Mom called,” he said, breaking off the top of the packet and pouring the sugar into his coffee.

“I know,” I agreed, forcing a weak smile and picking up a packet of sugar from the bowl on the table.

“Little bro – back in town,” Tim muttered, sipping from the steaming mug.

I poured the sugar into the coffee and stirred it, taking a sip; beautiful and bitter, just how I liked it. I sighed and tried to relax.

Tim noticed my posture. “You didn’t bring Haley back with you?”

“Not this time.”

“How come?”

I inhaled deeply, trying to begin. Tim raised his eyebrows at me.

“We’re not together anymore; she doesn’t know I’m here.”

Tim’s eyes widened. “Are you serious?”

“Yeah.”

“Taylor and Haley. Like Lennon and McCartney. I never thought I’d see the day.”

“I know,” I sighed. “I can barely believe it myself.”

“What happened, man?”

“Well, I can’t listen to Fleetwood Mac anymore.”

Over his shoulder, I saw a girl with deep chestnut curls. My breath caught, heart hammered against my chest, eyes transfixed on her as she turned her head. It wasn’t her. It couldn’t be.

I looked back to Tim and opened my mouth, but I couldn’t find the words, or the strength to begin to tell him of our downfall, of how everything had changed, and how I had lost the best thing to ever have happened to me. I had lost Haley. I may as well have lost a limb too.

Promises and Wishes.

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In my first semester of university, in Autumn 2011, I made a list of goals I wanted to achieve by the end of my graduation year. I didn’t find this list again until early 2014, so I kept it safely knowing that come December I would have to sit down and have a good look at what I could tick off from my list of promises and wishes.

I’m a third generation Virgo, and we all have lived up to the name. From as early as I can remember my ambition had been to go to university, which I have now reached. So that’s a 100% success rate, right? I’m not sure that’s something I’ll be able to maintain, but I’ll go for over 50. One of the many attributes of a Virgo is list making, and for me it’s the perfect way to clear my head. So let’s have a look at what I promised to have accomplished by the end of 2014.

A 2:1 or First in Creative Writing BA.
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A copy of my dissertation marks that overall gave me 70.
TICK. I achieved a 2:1 overall and a First class mark on my dissertation – which I count as covering both areas. My dissertation was actually an idea that I’d been working on since the end of my first year so to have it be valued at a First class mark was beyond a dream.

To have learnt to drive/be learning.
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This picture was taken on one of my driving lessons.
TICK. I am currently learning to drive and I really enjoy it. I have a great instructor named Paul who is really understanding and helpful. I need to get my arse in gear and do my theory test and then I’ll really be on my way to passing. (Perhaps I will put that on my list for 2015)

To know where I want to take the next stage of my life.
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A book. One of my favourites. Just ’cause.
TICK. Sort of. I know that I want to work in the publishing industry, whether that be literary agency or editorial, I know I want to help other people’s book-dreams come true. As I can’t stop myself from editing a book as I’m reading it, I owe it to myself. In most recent events, my life has been turned (almost) upside down so I have been slightly shaken on the “future” category. Having said this, I still want to maintain my direction, although anything in the creative sector will suit me just fine.

To have visited another country I haven’t visited before.
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The Falls – which are as breathtaking as they are in this photograph.
TICK. I did the Camp America experience in Summer 2013 which was brilliant. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and met some amazing people.

To have written a novel – 50,000 words or more.
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This is a picture of writing a very early draft.
TICK. Ish. THE NOVEL (as there is only one) currently stands at 20,000 and about 1,234 notebook notes. I decided not too long ago that I wanted to try the story as a film script which proved to be really successful. So I’m not sure what way it is going to best present itself… which leads me onto nicely…

To have sent a script premise to the BBC.
No picture.
Not so much of a TICK. I’ve always aspired to write a sitcom but sadly other areas of my writing have overtaken that wish. One day I will, but at the moment I’m happy to be focusing on my poetry and my novel/film-confused hybrid baby.

To have the implant reinstated.
No picture cause that would be gross!
TICK. This form of birth control suits me nicely and had it reinstated before I went to America circa 2013.

To get another piercing
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My clip on piercings.
Sort of TICK? I decided not so long ago to buy clip on piercings that suit me fine. That means I can try out the look before going through the pain and spending the money. At the moment I’m not set on getting snakebites permanently but could be persuaded by a septum ring.

To get another tattoo
No picture.
X. Still got lots of ideas that I would like but never got around to them. I will put this on my list for 2015.

Find my style
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My punk style.
TICK. I’ve come to accept that on a day to day basis I really cannot be asked to wear make up, but occasionally when I go out for a smart/casual evening or just a smart one, I do like to accessorize my outfit with something on my face. One thing I have come to accept is that I will always have a grungy style. I just love the punk rock look that I have been inspired by for the last ten years. (All thanks to Hayley Williams. GIRL POWER.) Even if I’m wearing something not so punk-rock-y, I like to jazz it up in my own style that suits me. I will always be a jeans and t-shirt kinda girl at heart.

So I would like to think that my three years at university ended on a pretty strong note, and I’m still living up to my Virgo status. So, to continue onward and upward, here are my promises and wishes for 2015. (Because three years is too long to get your arse ’round to something.)

Learn to manage my depression and anxiety.
Thus, the subject of the world-turning I mentioned earlier. I’m still in the early stages of my recovery but I aim to get myself on track at least enough to start participating in society again. I will be taking steps to do so like..

Buy some trainers and taking up running.
I had an epiphany. Said epiphany occurred when I ran for a train and instantly felt better.

Do something that scares me.
Not sure quite what that THING is yet. I’ll keep you posted on this one.

Learn to knit.
I’ve always wanted to knit, so I endeavor to learn this year. It may help my anxiety too.

Get better at French.
I don’t expect to be fluent and I certainly don’t expect to be better overnight, but I would like to get better at French with the help of Duolingo.

Pass my driving test!
Speaks for itself.

These are the ones I have thought of so far. The list may (and probably will) grow, especially once I start to get my confidence back. Look out for the update this time next year and many more poetry and prose updates throughout the year!

The art of chilling out.

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crisis definition

Having an existential crisis does not mean putting your head between your legs. It also does not mean breathing heavily into a brown paper bag. It does, however, mean that a certain amount of your thought process goes into thinking, wondering, and wishing.

I’m doing a bachelor degree in Creative Writing, and I’m about to become a graduate. The weeks are counting down as the word count on my dissertation goes up, and it’s safe to say I’m not enjoying it. In fact, I don’t actually know many people who are enjoying it.

Currently I’m sitting in the university library, surrounded by stressed third years sweating over a mountain of job applications, dissertation chapters and academic diaries. Scribble, strike, repeat. Scribble, strike, repeat. Highlight. Highlight. Scrunch. Throw. I’m sure the library staff are sick of seeing it. In fact, they’re probably placing bets on who is going to burst into tears first.

I’m sure there is at least one person reading this who has graduated, and you might say it’s not as bad we’re making it out. But let me tell you: Yes it is. Shut up.

I’m joking. You’re right obviously. All of this worry and stress does nothing except worry and stress us out more. Eventually we forget that although we need to work hard during the final push, we should also be celebrating. Sticking at something for three years, in times of great uncertainty and doubt, is a great achievement. Throughout the arguments with housemates and bad assessment grades, hopefully all of us will agree that it was completely worth it.

Cue cheesy, feel good, mantra: The end doesn’t always mean the end, it’s the beginning of a new chapter.

So upon leaving university, you’re expected to know what you want to do with your life, right? Wrong. No one knows. I guarantee that many people who have graduated end up down a completely different career path to the one they set out for themselves. Not from being misguided but because things change, life changes, people change.

Nobody expects you in the beginning of your twenties to have it all planned out. Take opportunities, have new experiences, meet new people and build a life for yourself.

So what am I going to do? Hand me the paper bag, please.

But really. I know I want to work in publishing and literary agency, and I have the rest of my life to do that so why not enjoy the journey getting there. It look me a good four months because I snapped out of my existential crisis and realised that actually it didn’t matter what I thought now, because that might change in a few months time. I might decide I want to become a heavyweight champion of the world by March.

Unlikely, because that involves going to the gym, but an example none the less!

So here is my advice to you, graduates of the world, who like me sweated and stressed over scribbled on bits of paper: chill out.